At twelve minutes before midnight on Monday, President Donald Trump authorized the release of the expected list of politicians and business leaders in the Russian Federation who have “benefited” from President Vladimir Putin’s rule of the Russian Federation. However, President Trump also specified that no sanctions against any of these people were to be imposed.
The text of the non-classified part of the document, shown here, specifically notes that:
It is not a sanctions list, and the inclusion of individuals or entities in this report, its appendices, or its annex does not and in no way should be interpreted to impose sanctions on those individuals or entities. Inclusion in this report also does not constitute the determination by any agency that any of those individuals or entities meet the criteria for designation under any sanctions program. Moreover, the inclusion of individuals or entities in this report, its appendices, or its classified annexes does not, in and of itself, imply, give rise to, or create any other restrictions, prohibitions, or limitations on dealings with such persons by either U.S. or foreign persons.
It doesn’t stop the disclaimer train here. It goes on:
Neither does inclusion on the unclassified list indicate that the U.S. Government has information about the individual’s involvement in malign activities.
Although the document does note that some persons were already subject to sanctions, it is very clear that this document doesn’t extend any sanctions in any way.
Of course, the spin doctors, unfortunately in the USA and the Russian Federation, did go to work on this document.
Among them appears to be Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who told some lawmakers that the classified report will result in more sanctions.
But wait – we just showed that the document itself says this is not so. Interesting?
Still more interesting is that the whole context of this list is being portrayed in some US government circles as a “sanctions list.”
"I assume you haven't read the classified version," Mnuchin tells Menendez. "There WILL be sanctions that come out of this report."
— Kayla Tausche (@kaylatausche) January 30, 2018
This document was creating some nervousness among some people in the Russian Federation. For example, Moscow-based Kaspersky Labs has long been beleaguered by unfair, and frankly, illegal treatment by elements in the US government that are more interested in Russia-damning rhetoric than they are the truth. The worry was that this company would be affected by further slander and maybe lose business in Europe, which thus far it has not.
It is probably not realized in the United States just how fabricated this disinformation campaign against Kaspersky Labs actually is. While American retailers have been scared into removing KL products from store shelves, thus far the European customers, both private and public, have continued to use their products undeterred by such propaganda.
Eugene Kaspersky himself has filed a suit against the US ban of its products. He has as good a basis to make his case as anyone does, because all the action taken against his products was done without due process, and according only to slander and hearsay.
Still, this issue created some worry until the document was actually released. Although Eugene’s name is on the list, he simply resides there along with 95 other “oligarchs” who simply are successful Russian businessmen and women.
President Putin gave the best response so far, indicating that the release of this list borders on “stupidity” because it reveals the inconsistency in the American government’s policies. He noted, probably with some sarcasm, that “it’s a pity” that he himself was not included on the list. However, he also noted that this action is certainly unfriendly, and he expressed some wonder, saying,
“What do they want? They must decide for themselves… The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on…”
President Putin maintained that Russia is eager to build long-term relations which are “stable and based on international law.”
The document does receive a fair dose of condemnation from Russian Federation officials and MP’s, noting that the action reflects a true breakdown in ties between Moscow and Washington.
On the American side, Trump is sure to be criticized for not enacting more sanctions by the Russophobes / Obama Deep Staters within the DC establishment, and their Russian counterparts are in their own way, amazed and dismayed.
However, one still hopes that with the Russiagate investigation nearing its final paroxysm of self-destruction, more productive steps can be taken by the Trump Administration to fix this problem. It must be understood that President Trump was required by law to release this document, and that the encouraging sign lies in the fact that he said there would be no actions taken to impose sanctions based on this list.